Revolutionary Games and Repressive Tolerance



Much of organizing is characterized by a cavalcade of often paradoxical feelings of both wanderlust and connection, righteous indignation and joyous abandon. It’s a high-octane release and a lusty craving for more of that freedom high that we sometimes feel when we elude social controls or create something better of our world for even a moment (McAdam, 1988). Many of these sensations are part of the feelings of play among friends described by Dutch historian Johan Huizinga in his landmark study. Homo Ludens (1.938/1950). Taking part in Critical Mass rides on the last Friday of each month; the zaps of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) against pharmaceutical companies; and unpermitted Occupy Wall Street pots-and-pans marches against traffic, away from police, and in between cars all come to involve this feeling. Playing is just what friends do. From rallies and video games, they play with one another. And in doing so, they often rebel (reveling in the essential queerness of football, playing with gender at drag marches). We all game the game (or at least we try to). Yet sometimes, the further we move into the game, the murkier the distance between the interior of the cave and the outside world becomes (Wark, 2007). At least, that was the case for me.


Video Game Game Play Class Struggle High School Football Football Coach 
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© Benjamin Shepard 2015

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